[FORUM]Daily science: Chart a candidategWhat it really is -- a political strategy to get out of torrent of corruption scandals or just deception not accompanied by a solid commitment to political neutrality -- makes no difference. But because President Kim Dae-jung resigned from the ruling party, the coming election is likely to be more policy-oriented. This time, the criteria we use to vote should be the person and the policy, not the region or the political color.
First of all, voters should not use vague political terms such as "conservative or liberal," "leftist or rightist," "neoliberalism" or "the third way." Instead, we had better force provincial or presidential candidates to clarify their stances on current issues such as national health insurance, education, pensions, free enterprise, market opening, agricultural policy and North Korea-related issues. We must force candidates to speak up and tell us what kind of ideas they have.
That leads us naturally to our voting choice if we use as our criterion the policies a candidate espouses. Then we will have a government of our choice. We should not choose an administration relying on vague political slogans and ideologies. There are various policy-oriented criteria we can use. See diagram A. When we put down conservative and progressive at each end of a line, it might be easy to understand, but it suffers from the problem of gross oversimplification.
We cannot discern the meaning of "progressive" and "conservative" by consulting a dictionary, because the meaning of the terms changes from time to time.
If one divides positions on each issue into radicals, reformists, moderates and hard-liners, it would be easier to make a distinction, but there is another way to do the same thing. For instance, one could ask whether one is pro-abortion with the following questions, where only a yes or no answer is acceptable:
1. If the pregnancy is due to rape
2. If the life of the pregnant woman is in grave danger
3. If the baby is deformed
and so on to
7. If the pregnant woman wants an abortion.
If someone answers "yes" to question No. 7, then all answers for questions 1 through 6 will be answered the same way. If a person answers "yes" to only one question, it would probably be to the first. It would be hard for candidates to avoid the questions and it is hard to make a mistake with such straightforward questions. In the end, the person who has no "yes" answers or only one is a most conservative person.
In the same way, we can clarify the candidate's own inclination on everyday issues. See the spider graph in diagram B. We can use several axes signifying enterprise, welfare, government intervention, the social medical system, woman, labor and so on. Put a dot on each radial, and you can define a cobweb-looking graphic. We can judge a candidate's stance by the square measure of the cobweb. The larger it is, the more progressive he is. If the shape of the cobweb is balanced just like the lower graph in diagram B, he or she is consistent and balanced.
Now, we can cull the candidate that best matches our views. Through a tighter net, or spider plots that have as many axes as possible, we can check the empty-worded candidate who says, "I can solve educational problems by majority opinion"; "I will redesign the national health insurance system only to improve people's health" or "I guarantee justice in economic distribution and I will make the Kospi reach 2,000 points." Just look at the chart you made.
The writer is a senior economic writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Su-gil